Polycyclic musks

Class of synthetic fragrances

Polycyclic musks are synthetic fragrances used e.g. in cosmetics, personal care products, household and laundry cleaners, papers and textiles.
Following use, they enter the environment through waste waters and sewage sludge.

Their degradation is slow. They are lipophilic and have a high potential for bioaccumulation.

Some polycylic musks are highly toxic to aquatic organisms. For some compounds photoxicity has been demonstrated, others are neurotoxic in animal experiments and act as endocrine disruptors. Moreover, some musk compounds are suspected to be carcinogenic.


HHCB The world's most important fragrance among the chemical group of polycyclic musks
AHTN One of the world's most important fragrance among the chemical group of polycyclic musks


Bream Bioindicator in rivers and lakes
Common bladder wrack Common brown alga of the coastal areas of the North and Baltic Sea
Blue mussel One of the most important edible mussel species common in the North and Baltic Sea
Eelpout As the only viviparous fish in German nearshore waters, it is a bioindicator in nearshore coastal marine ecosystems.

Sampling area

Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum Important, old-industrialised conurbation in Germany.
Bornhöveder Seengebiet Main water divide between the North- and Baltic Sea
Rhein Longest river in Germany
NP Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park in the largest brackish water (Bodden) habitat of the world.
BR/NP Wattenmeere National park in the world largest connected sand and mud flats.
Elbe Fourth largest river basin in Central Europe
Verdichtungsraum Halle-Leipzig Region in the chemical triangle of Central Germany

Sampling period

1986 - 2003

Extended information

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